While the term “cob” is common enough, if you are not from the United Kingdom or Ireland, you may be unsure just exactly what an Irish Cob is. In fact, you may wonder is it an actual breed at all, or more of a “type”? Below are some fun facts about this beautiful horse.
#1 – They are known as Gypsy horses or Gypsy Vanners in other parts of the world
The reason you may not recognize the Irish Cob is because to most the world, they are known as the Gypsy, Gypsy Cob, or Gypsy Vanner. This breed, which has several registries including the Gypsy Horse Registry of America, Gypsy Horse Association and Gypsy Vanner Horse Society, are from imported Irish Cobs.
#2 – All colors are accepted
Though many of us picture the black and white pinto when we think of these horses, they actually come in a rainbow of colors. Unlike many breeds, the Irish Cob allows for pretty much any color except albino, according to the Irish Horse Society.
#3 – For showing purposes, the breed is divided into 3 sizes
According to the Irish Horse Society, show divisions are as follows: A horses – over 15.2hh up to 16.3hh; B horses – over 14.2hh up to 15.2hh; C horses – under 14.2hh.
#4 – Though the breed is old, the studbook was created recently
While the Irish Cob has a long history, the studbook wasn’t officially founded until 1998. The breed didn’t get established in America (as the Gypsy) until the late 1990’s as well.
#5 – The breed was developed by Gypsies to pull their wagons
If you have ever wondered why we call them Gypsies in America–“Gypsy horses”– it’s because the breed was developed by the Romani people in the United Kingdom and Ireland to pull their Vardoes – a beautifully designed wagon that they lived and worked in.
#6 – It’s feather not featherS!
If you want to get a rise out of an Irish Cob owner or breeder, just comment on their horse’s lovely “feathers.” They will be quick to correct you – it is always “feather” or “feathering” never with an “s.”
#7 – Big but gentle
Many may see their large, powerful bodies and think they must be quite a handful. But since the breed was developed literally as part of a Traveler’s family, they had to have a sweet disposition. Often it was the children taking care of the family horse, so while strong enough to pull a wagon, they are soft enough to be led by a child. This makes them ideal mounts (or cart horses) for almost anyone.
#8 – Were they bred for meat?
I have been told by some that Irish Cobs were also bred for meat markets in Europe. But after some research, I think this tale came from the misleading term “Gypsy horse.” The research I found was that along with the Irish Cob, Gypsy’s bred trotter horses and “trade” horses that were used for meat. Technically, these horse are also “gypsy horses” because they were bred by Gypsies, but they are not the same as the Irish Cob. I found no evidence to support that the actual Irish Cob was bred for meat. (www.vannercenteral.com / westceltgypsy.coma)